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Cowherd: Ravens need to know how Suggs got hurt

As much as the Ravens want it to go away, the Terrell Suggs injury is the story that won't die.

It took all of about 90 seconds for the subject to come up in John Harbaugh's press conference after OTAs at the Castle on Wednesday.

"How are you responding to these reports about Terrell Suggs playing basketball?" a radio guy asked. "Has he talked to you and told you the truth?"

Harbaugh's reaction was curious: he seemed to smile and wince at the same time.

The smile seemed kind of strained, like the smile you'd give someone who just pointed out you've put on a few pounds.

But I sure didn't blame Harbaugh for wincing.

"That's not a conversation we're even having," the Ravens coach said finally. "It's not relevant to anything . . . to do with what we're trying to accomplish. If it were, I guess we'd think about it."

OK, let me take issue with part of that.

Harbaugh's right about Suggs' torn Achilles tendon not being relevant to how the Ravens prepare for next season.

The team has to move on with the assumption that its All-Pro outside linebacker probably won't return until around November.

It has to get Paul Kruger ready to be a possible replacement for Suggs. And it has to get Courtney Upshaw, the Ravens' second-round draft pick out of Alabama, up to speed quickly as another player who can pressure the quarterback and make plays from the other side.

But the problem is, having two different stories out there about how Suggs tore his Achilles makes the Ravens look bad.

Sure, NFL players can hurt themselves in a hundred different ways in the off-season. We know that. They get in motorcycle accidents. They get run over by golf carts. They get hurt rock-climbing, in-line skating, jogging, surfing, lifting weights, you name it.

They jab themselves with potato-peelers and slice open their hands with steak knives.

My favorite NFL off-season injury happened to LaRon Landry —then a Washington Redskins rookie safety — who got blasted with a paintball shot in the groin and missed part of the team's mini-camp five years ago.

But when Suggs says he was injured during a conditioning test and ESPN reports he tore the Achilles playing basketball, it's embarrassing for the team.

It makes the Ravens look as if they're out of touch with one of their star players.

Or, worse, it makes them look as if they're covering up something.

"The relevant conversation as far as Terrell Suggs is going to be rehab," Harbaugh said. "He's going to be back here next week. He's got a doctor's appointment on Monday, if I'm not mistaken. He's going to go to work and get that (Achilles) back. And knowing Terrell, he'll be back sooner than later."

OK, fine, I'd put a happy face on this whole thing, too, if I were Harbaugh.

I'd talk up what a hard worker Terrell Suggs is.

I'd talk up how motivated he is, how much he loves football, how he's going to turn into a rehab warrior because he wants to prove the doctors wrong and come back way earlier than predicted.

But inside the Castle, you can bet the Ravens aren't thrilled with how this story is playing out nationally.

And you can bet they're trying to get to the bottom of exactly how Suggs hurt himself. Especially now that ESPN has two people on record as saying Suggs went down in a basketball tournament in Arizona.

No, the Ravens aren't going to take any money from Suggs, even if they find out he tore the Achilles playing hoops.

What difference does it make how he hurt himself? This wasn't a bar fight or a run-in with the cops. Whether it was basketball or a conditioning drill, the guy was trying to keep himself in shape.

Everyone who's talked to him knows Suggs loves basketball. And he's played it for years in the off-season in Arizona to keep his weight down. The Ravens know all about that, too. And they never had a problem with it.

If NFL teams barred players from playing hoops in the off-season, they'd have a ton of fatsos on their hands once the mini-camps started.

But that doesn't mean the Ravens shouldn't sit down with Suggs and find out exactly how he got hurt.

And when they do, they should share it with the rest of us.

Ravens fans deserve to know the truth about how the incumbent NFL Defensive Player of the Year got hurt.

Until then, it'll remain the story that won't die.

Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. Tuesdays on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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